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Poem: The Glen Plaid Suit

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The Suit of My Family Legacy

When my mother passed away recently, I went through her closet. And there it was: my glen plaid suit. It was the suit I wore only once to my bar mitzvah, but it was the suit that my mother valued as one of our family artifacts. It was also the suit that I dreaded to wear, even if it was for only one day. But when you're barely 13, one day seemed like a lifetime. I since donated the suit to Goodwill hoping that it would become a legacy for some other family. I often think of what that suit meant to me and how it touched my family. I'm sure when my parents remember me in the afterlife, I'll be wearing that suit, baggy and all.

Poem: The Glen Plaid Suit

When I was thirteen,
I bought a suit
that promised
magical powers.

It would help transform
me into a man,
no longer a boychik
with knobby knees,
my father said.

My father took me
to see the Wizard of Suits
on South Street,
a store of many colors
and fabrics.

The Wizard spoke softly
in a South Philly accent,
“I’ll scratch your back
if you scratch mine.”

My father agreed
and the Wizard spun
a powerful, noble suit
into a double-breasted
glen plaid.

In return my father
gave the Wizard
a satchel of silver
and one of my
least favorite siblings.

The Wizard promised
that if I wear the suit,
I could possess the world
in my hands.

In my heart,
I didn’t believe him.
I’d much rather have
a three-quarter length jacket
in soft black leather.

When the special day arrived,
I wore my magical suit.
It felt heavy and hung loosely
off my feeble body.

The sleeves were too long,
the pants were baggy.
The necktie kept cutting off
my oxygen supply.

I yearned to be in cut-off jeans,
a loose-fitting tee-shirt,
sneakers or a pair of sandals
instead of cordovan wingtips.

I wished I had a Louisville Slugger
instead of a holy book in my hands.
I wished I wore a baseball hat
instead of a skull cap on my head.

But I read the few lines of Hebrew,
did what the rabbi said,
and collected my mitzvah gelt
in sealed envelopes
from all my smiling relatives.

It was the only time,
I wore that magical suit,
a cumbersome suit of armor.
It still hangs on a wire hanger
in my mother’s dusty closet.

Video Poem by Mark Tulin: The Glen Plaid Suit

© 2018 Mark Tulin